Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coming Up For Air...

Its been one week and two days since John returned home.  The first day felt like six weeks.  The second day felt like two days and 4 hours.  The third day felt like a day because John had to start going back to reintegration that morning... 

Ha ha ha...anyone a fan of Steve Martin's The Jerk?  If so, you'll understand that little above reference..  If should watch it.  :D

That being said...I figured it was time to come up for air and bring you up to date on the joyous reunion of the Larson family...

Last Thursday night I had chatted on Yahoo IM with John for a few minutes and was told that the earliest he would be flying in was probably Sunday evening.  So, I went to bed that night thinking I had two whole days to finish cleaning and organizing the house and getting everything ready for his return home.  Imagine my surprise when at 8AM on Friday morning I got a call from Sgt. Meyer telling me that John was on a plane and headed home.  She had confirmation from a "friend" that texted her.  WHAT!  I didn't fully believe her until 10:30AM when I got a call from Rear Detachment telling me that John was in the air and the welcome home ceremony would be at 18:00 hours.  (thats 6PM for all you non-24 hour clock peeps...)


By 4PM we were pretty much ready to go and I had given the girls an early dinner and they were in their pretty dresses and we'd fixed their hair and we were all just sitting...waiting...anticipating...

At 5PM exactly we got in the car and drove the 4 minutes it takes to get to the Memorial Gym and snagged our front row seats.  We had an hour to wait.  One hour.  The first minute felt like 6 years...the second minute felt like 3 years and 3 months...the third minute...just kidding...ha ha ha...

And then it was nearly 6PM....and....they told us the busses were late and we had a whole 20 more minutes.

GAAAAAAAH....the longest 20 minutes of my life.  The first minute felt like....ha ha ha.  Still just kidding.  We took a "waiting for dad" snapshot...

And then all of a sudden it was time for the soldiers to come in...

Keep in mind that we'd been planning this coming home moment for a year!  I had planned on video taping and taking a bunch of photos but when the moment came I ended up with a partial video and just three photos.  I know... crazy

But...the partial video makes me cry every time.

The whole ceremony took about 3 minutes.  There was a prayer, the National Anthem played...John mouthed that he loved me and I melted into a puddle of tears...(thats my handsome soldier in the stetson..)

...General Salazar made a few comments and then released the soldiers.  And then it was madness.

Imagine grown women shoving small children aside as they race to their soldiers...  Maddie was one of the first to reach them so she managed to dart inbetween people and got to John quickly...Bella and I held back some to allow for the trampling to subside and then went and got our kisses.

Bella was a little apprehensive at first...

We took another photo with both of them...

Its so good to have him home.  Really good.  And now that I've come up for air I'm headed back down again. 

Welcome Home John.  We love you and missed you. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I was laying on my bed watching Kirstie Alley dance the cha cha on Dancing with the Stars when this little gem occured:

Bella (climbing over my legs and places her hand on my leg):  OUCH!  Mama you are pokey!

Ok...ok...I guess that means its time to shave.  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Space A Part 5 - The End.

Well, this was promised as the "good part" of our trip...and I think that is best shown in enjoy...

Jenna's gluten free chocolate muffins.  YUMMY.

She learned to PEDAL!!!

Cousin snuggles

Her first violin

Seeing Eric!

...and Xander's play...

Walks on Sunday before church...

Running around the National Mall...

Tongues Out!

FDR Memorial...(my favorite!)


Cherry blossoms...

Baby ducks...

Hangin' out with George...(Mason, that is...)

...and Mr. Jefferson.

Refusing to take even one step closer to the Capitol

Dinner!  Day family style!

The Easter Bunny...

Easter dresses...

Awesome cousin pics...

And a REALLY comfortable airplane ride home.  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Space A Part 4 - Three things want the good news or the bad news first?  Bad news first?  Thats the way I like to do things...that means we end on a positive note!

While we were in Washington DC, my sister read an article about the top 10 ways to get motivated to spring clean your house.  Well, we managed to whittle the list down to three.

1.  Vomit.

2.  Diarrhea.

3.  Lice.

Part 4 is going to focus on the really awful part of my trip to DC and then I'll follow it up with Part 5 - and all the GOOD parts of our trip to DC.

Poor little Bellina.  During the two weeks that we were there she developed some kind of crazy stomach thing that caused incessant diarrhea and nighttime vomiting.  Of course it always had to happen in the middle of the night...all over the bed, floor, walls, frame, sheets....  Is this too much information?  HA!  Too bad.  This is for posterity...right?
So...after 4 days of her keeping down the equivalent of about 1/2 a banana we ended up in the emergency room...

Poor little girl.

Turns out that the emergency room docs have NOTHING on a motivated team of sisters who need sleep. 

We realized that the only thing that was different in Bella's diet were almonds.  Sure enough...eliminate the almonds and wahlaa! it didn't happen magically like that, but within a few days she was back to "normal" and now I need to have her fully tested for an almond allergy of some sort.  It may also be that she's just intollerant.  Those nuts are hard for her little mouth and teeth to chew.  Either way...we're off almonds completely and we've had no problems ever since.

In the midst of all this...and on the same day as the ER visit we discover that my sister's two little ones have lice.  Gaaaaah!  Neither she or I have ever had to deal with lice.  I don't even know what those little buggers look like...  Either way...Dad and the two older boys spent 4 hours and all the spare change in the house plus some at the laundromat cleaning all the sheets/pillows, cases, comforters, towels etc. in the house.  UGH.

Mayonnaise hair treatments!

Between the barf and the lice their laundry machines got quite a workout.

Needless to say...I think it was a relief when the lice was gone and everyone's tummy was back to normal.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Space A Part 3 - Walking 3 miles at 3AM

Sorry it took me longer than a day to get back to you.  Things got in the started getting busy again...I'm occasionally stopped in my tracks with the knowledge that in less than THREE WEEKS my husband will be home for good. 

Yeah...I find myself wandering around in a daze thinking about it when I should have been doing more important stuff like...updating my blog!

But...let me just tell you the story of our 3AM stroll through Andrews Air Base...

It all started around 12:30AM when our flight arrived, taxied, parked and we all got off and went to find our bags.

I thought that just maybe someone would be there waiting...there was nobody there.

A nice man named Hugh, who was waiting until 7AM for a flight out to Indiana, offered me the use of his cell phone.

So, I called my sister, Jenna.

No one answered. 

I called her cell phone.

No one answered.

So I called her husband Jason's cell phone.

No one answered. I thought *maybe* they just were sleeping or missed the calls and I'd call back in about 20 minutes.

1:00AM - I call again...all three phones.  No one answers.

1:30AM - I call again...all three phones.  No one answers.

2:00AM - I call again...all three phones and I leave the message that I'd try one more time in 1/2 hour and if I still didn't reach anyone we were going to bed down in the "children's room" for the night.  (They had these awesome bean bags that were calling my name.)

2:30AM - I call for the last time and the phone is answered...

Me:  "Who is this?"
Garrett: "Its Garrett."  (Garrett is 10 and should NOT have been answering the phone at 2:30AM!)
Me:  "What are you doing answering the phone at 2:30AM?!"  (I can't believe I scolded him!  He saved us some serious drama!)
Garrett:  "I just heard it ringing so I went to pick it up."
Me:  "You should be in bed!  But nevermind...go give the phone to your mom."
Garrett:  "I'm sorry, but she's asleep right now and I don't want to wake her up."
Me:  "Garrett - I promise she won't be mad...go give your mom the phone."
Garrett:  "No, really I can't do that.  She's sleeping really deeply."  (Love that kid for protecting his mom's sleep so vehemently.)
Me:  "GARRETT GIVE YOUR MOM THE PHONE.  I promise it will be ok."

Jenna comes on the line and informs me that Jason has been waiting for us since 12:30AM at the front gate because they wouldn't let him on post!


So starts the "how to get to the front gate" part of the trip...

My options: 
#1.  Call a taxi to come from off post (45 minute wait) - have the taxi drive us 3 miles to the front gate.
#2.  Wait until 4AM for the nice soldier manning the terminal help desk to get off work and he would drive us to the gate.
#3.  Walk.

"Pack it up girls!  We're headed out!" 

So, Maddie put on her backpack and grabbed a roller bag in each hand.  I strapped Bella in the stroller, threw on a duffel bag and my diaper bag over my shoulders and we started walking.

At 3AM.

To the front gate.

Oh what a sight we must have been.  I wish I had a photo.

We'd only gone about a mile when an MP pulled up next to us and asked, "Uhm...where are you going?"

He offered us a ride the rest of the way. (Thank you MP!!!!)

Poor Jason celebrated the first 4 hours of his birthday sitting in the visitor's center parking lot of Andrews Air Base.  I don't know if I was able to adequately explain our gratitude or my thanks!

Happy Birthday Jason! ( ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...I'm sure he was laughing on the inside.  :)  )